In spite of being in the old continent of Europe, the United Kingdom is not part of the Schengen Zone. The country, alongside with Ireland, opted out from joining the area upon its establishment.
Many people get confused when it comes to traveling from the United Kingdom to the Schengen territory since the Schengen policies require from nationals of many countries to obtain a visa prior to their trip.
Do I Need to Apply for a Visa to Visit Europe from the UK?
Due to the United Kingdom being part of the European Union until February 2020, its citizens have so far been permitted to enter the Schengen Zone without a visa. However, not every person residing in the UK has the right to travel to Schengen states without having a visa sticker in their passport.
You will need to obtain a visa prior to your trip to Schengen if you are:
- A UK passport holder, but you have previously been rejected from entering the area visa-free
- A foreign passport holder legally residing in the UK, and you hold the passport of a country which:
- Does not have a visa-free agreement with Schengen Area.
- Has a visa-free agreement with Schengen, but you have been previously denied entry in the area.
Please note that only legal UK residents can apply for a Schengen visa in the UK. If you are in the UK under a visa you will have to apply in your home country.
Post-Brexit traveling for UK passport holders
UK passport holders will be eligible to travel Visa-free to the Schengen Zone until November 2023, when the ETIAS scheme comes into effect. As of that date all countries under the visa-free regime with the EU, including the UK, must obtain an ETIAS before traveling to the border-less territory.
How to Apply for Schengen Visa from UK?
The explanations given above might have already given you a clue if you need a visa, and whether you can apply for it in the United Kingdom. Applying for a Schengen visa in the UK is similar to applying anywhere else in the world. Follow the steps listed below to apply for Schengen visa in UK:
Figure out the Schengen visa type you need
There are a few Schengen visa types, according to the purpose entry into Schengen zone and activities you wish to carry there. Here are the types of Schengen visas available for UK residents:
- Schengen visa to transit through an airport.
- Schengen visa for tourism.
- Schengen visa for business events.
- Schengen visa to visit family and friends.
- Schengen visa for cultural visits.
- Schengen visa to get medical treatment.
- Short term study visa.
- Official Visit Visa.
Learn about the best time to apply
There are some conditions on when it is the earliest and the latest you can apply, as well as when is the most suitable time to apply. According to the Schengen visa application rules, the earliest you can apply for a visa is three months prior to your intended trip. Whereas, the latest you can apply is two weeks prior to your trip to Schengen.
The most suitable time is three weeks before you head to the Schengen. However, you are highly recommended to apply as soon as you can, in order to avoid any possible delays. Holders of multiple-entry visas may apply six months before the expiry date of the valid visa.
Figure out where to apply
Even though the Schengen zone has abolished internal borders and a visa to one of its member states gives its holder the right to travel through the whole area, you cannot file your application at whichever of its embassies in the UK. There are rules and criteria as per where you should submit your application.
If you are visiting only one Schengen country
If you are planning to visit only one Schengen country then you should simply make an appointment at the embassy/consulate/visa center of that country in the UK and attend the interview.
If you are visiting more than one Schengen country
However, it is a bit more complicated in case you will be visiting two or more countries. Depending on the number of days you will be spending in each, you need to apply as follows:
- If you will be spending an equal number of days in each country, you should apply at the embassy/consulate/visa center of the country where you will step first.
- If you will be spending an unequal number of days in each country, you should apply at the embassy/consulate/visa center of the country where you will be spending more days.
Depending on the country, which needs to process your file, you may have to submit your application at:
- The embassy or consulate of the country that you want to visit.
- A visa center in the UK.
- The embassy/consulate/ visa center of another country in the UK that has jurisdiction over processing visa Schengen visas. For instance, Iceland has outsourced visa processing to other Schengen countries’ embassies. If you are applying for an Iceland visa from the UK, you should apply at the Royal Danish Embassy in London.
Collect the required documents for UK residents
To complete your application for a Schengen visa in UK, you need to collect and submit the required documents. Require a checklist of these documents at the embassy of the country responsible for processing your application, and collect them according to the set criteria.
The required documents to apply for a Schengen visa in UK are as following:
- Visa application form. The Schengen visa application form is the same for each of the member states. You can download it online or require it from the embassy. Fully complete this form with correct information. Print it in two copies and sign both of them at the end.
- Valid Passport. Your passport should be no older than 10 years. It should also have at least one free page in order to affix a visa sticker in it.
- Two identical photos. You should also submit two identical photos, no older than three months. They should fulfill all of the Schengen visa photo requirements, as being in color and of high quality.
- A valid UK residence permit or other forms of Identity Card. The UK residency permit must be endorsed in the actual passport (or on a new biometric ID card)
- Schengen Travel Medical Insurance. Evidence that you have purchased health insurance is necessary. Your health insurance must cover the whole Schengen territory with a minimum of 30,000 Euro per person.
- A Schengen visa cover letter. In this letter, you are required to explain in details why you wish to visit the country, where you will be staying and what you will be doing throughout your stay.
- Round-trip Travel Itinerary. This is a traveling plan from the UK to the Schengen Zone and back, as a booked flight reservation, package tour, etc. Click here to learn how to book fake flight tickets without paying the full price.
- Evidence of accommodation. Amongst others, you need to show where you will be staying during your time in Schengen. This could be one of the following:
- Hotel booking. A document issued by a hotel in your destination country/countries, which includes your dates of stay, hotel address and other contact details.
- Invitation letter. In case you are planning to stay over at a relative or friend, then you will have to submit a letter in which they invite you to stay over. It should contain details as the host’s personal information, your dates of stay and your relationship with them.
- Rent agreement. If you are planning to stay at a rented place, then you should show a rental contract as evidence of accommodation.
- Proof of financial means. Each of the Schengen countries requires travelers to own a minimum specified amount of money per day, in order to be permitted to enter. This could be a bank statement, which proves you have that amount of money, a letter of sponsorship, etc.
- Depending on your employment status you will have to submit the following documents:
- If you are an employee, you need to submit:
- Leave permission from the employer.
- Employment contract.
- Income Tax Return (ITR) form or Certificate of Income Tax deducted at the source of salary.
- If you are self-employed, you need to submit:
- A copy of your business license.
- Income Tax Return (ITR).
- If you are retired, you need to submit:
- Pension statement of the latest 6 months.
- If you are an employee, you need to submit:
- If you are studying at a UK university, you need to submit:
- Proof of enrollment.
- No objection letter from School or University in the UK.
- If you are unemployed and married to a UK citizen, you need to submit:
- Your spouse’s Confirmation of Employment. This document should be issued by the employer of your spouse and must indicate details such as the position held by your spouse within the company, as well as the starting date.
- Spouse’s valid passport.
- An officially translated marriage certificate. If your marriage certificate is not in English, translation is required. This translation must be certified as a true copy by the Embassy of the country where the marriage took place or by the Legalization Bureau of the Foreign Office in the UK. In case this Certificate was issued outside the EU, it must bear a stamp by the Foreign Office of the issuing country, or its Embassy in the UK.
- Proof of paid visa fee. When you pay the fee, save the receipt in order to show it to the consular officer as proof that you have paid it.
Attend the visa interview
All applicants must appear for the interview. This is the part where the consular officer will decide whether to grant you the Schengen visa.
Pay the visa fee
When you pay the fee, keep the receipt since you will need it later.
The cost for a Schengen visa application in the United Kingdom may vary from 30 £ for children aged between 6 and 12 to 51 £ for adults (depending on currency fluctuations).
|Schengen Visa Category (by age)||Fee in UK Pound||Fee in Euro|
|Adult||51 £||80 €|
|Child between 6-12 years of age||30 £||40 €|
|Child younger than 6 years of age||Free||Free|
In the case of visa rejection, you will not get refunded. Therefore, you want to make sure that the information that you have submitted for this visa is correct and that you have collected all the required documents.
Note: Keep in mind that these fees may change depending on currency fluctuations and can be paid only in UK Pounds.
Attend the interview
Attend the interview with all of the required documents, arranged in order.
Wait for a response on your application
The processing of a Schengen visa application in the UK takes the same time everywhere around the world, which is approximately 15 days. There may be delays only at times when the embassies are processing more visas than usually.
What Can I Do If My Application is Denied?
In case you have your Schengen visa application denied, you can always reapply by fixing the mistakes made during your application. When you get the news on visa denial, the embassy will also provide you with reasons why you were rejected from getting a visa.
If you think that you were rejected wrongly or unjustly, you can appeal the decision by writing a visa rejection appeal letter.